Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Men of the Edo State Police Command and the Department of State Service (DSS), have laid siege to the premises of the Bendel Newspapers Company Limited (BNCL), publishers of the Nigerian Observer to prevent civil society members from embarking on the planned nationwide protest civil tagged “#RevolutionNow protest#.
The civil society members were assembling at the venue for the take-off of the protest when the security agencies stormed the arena to stop them from carrying on with the planned protest.
The security agencies also besieged the entrance to the secretariat of the Edo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The security personnel positioned their vehicles at strategic entrances to the Nigerian Observer and its adjoining streets like the Vegetable Market road and the Observer lane.
The security officers stormed the Nigerian Observer premises with four Hilux patrol vans and the NUJ secretariat with about three.
But speaking on the action of the combined team of security agency, a member of the civil society who preferred anonymity, said the police and DSS want them to abort the protest.
According to him, the security agencies want us to tell them why we went to protest. But we told them that we want to protest the arrest of Omoyele Sowore, the presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC) in the last February 23, 2019.
However, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, when contacted, denied the claim that the presence of the security operatives was for the purported protest march by the group.
Nwabuzor said the presence of the police personnel was an act to forestall attacks on the media house in the state.
“There is an intelligence report that some people want to attack some media houses in the state,” Nwabuzor said.
Responding to the alleged attack on the media houses in the state, the state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Sir Roland Osakue said the move by such individual is condemnable, adding that the journalists swallow fire for the public to drink water.
“I am disappointed that some persons will sit down at their evil confine to say they want to attack the media houses. Well, first of all, I must come out to tell you that the press is the Fourth Estate of the Realm. We swallow fire while we allow people to drink water.
“It is the media that defend human rights and justice. We defend the constitution; we ensure that every person is granted equity. There is fairness, equity, and justice. For some persons to sit down and say they want to attack media houses is an aberration.
“People who are fighting for the people, the watchdog of the society, people who want to ensure there are fairness and equity in the society, how would you come and unleash terror and mayhem on them. It is not so good, I condemn it in its entirety and those behind that evil plot should refrain from it and think of other things to do,” Osakue said.